Privacy is hard to come by these days. Whether you are sharing a computer or are generally suspicious of peers who occasionally have access to your computer, you may have the desire to store sensitive information or private files in a safe place. This article provides a summary of three quick and easy ways to hide folders in Windows 7.
Note that none of these solutions will effectively hide your data from knowledgeable users. For truly sensitive and confidential data, I recommend more advanced solutions, which not only hide or luck, but also encrypt your data. For pointers, please see the additional resources section below.
1. Hide Folders
Windows offers an easy way to quickly hide folders from unsuspecting eyes. This method requires that Windows does not show hidden files and folders. So changing this setting is the first step in this approach…
- Open File Explorer (any folder) and go to Tools > Folder options…
- Within Folder Options switch to the View tab.
- Under Files and Folders find the option Hidden files and folders and select Don’t show hidden files, folders, or drives.
- Click OK and, with the next few steps, proceed to hiding a folder.
- Right-click the folder you want to hide and select Properties.
- In the General tab check the option called Hidden.
- Go to Advanced… to change Archive and Index attributes; you might want to block indexing of the folder contents.
- Click OK to save your changes.
Once you wish to access your folder, go through folder options to temporarily make hidden folders visible. Obviously, this is a little inconvenient. To take a shortcut and hide or unhide several folders at once, you can use the tool Free Hide Folder. It can hide and unhide selected folders, given the folder options are set to not show hidden files and folders.
Although access to this tool is protected by a password, it does reveal that there are hidden folders somewhere and advanced users will find them with ease.
2. Make Folders Invisible
This method will make your folder invisible, rather than hidden. This means you won’t have to go through folder options to unhide your folder. On the downside, someone may discover your invisible folder by accident. To make an invisible folder, you have to do two things: first remove the folder name and second make the folder icon transparent.
First, hide the folder name:
- Select the questionable folder and click F2.
- Then hold the ALT key while typing the numbers 0160 using the number pad.
- Hit Enter and the folder name should be gone.
Next, you need to make the folder icon invisible:
- Right-click your folder and select Properties.
- Switch to the Customize tab and click the Change Icon… button.
- Several blank icons can be found in the default Windows 7 icon collection. Find one, select it and click OK.
If the invisible folder sits on your desktop, make sure it’s along the edge of the screen and towards the right side. This will decrease the chance of it being found by chance. Note that anyone can still access the folder, given they find it. For example, clicking CTRL+A will select and highlight all files and folders, including invisible ones.
Aibek also described this method in his article 2 Ways to Hide “Important” Files and Folders in Windows.
3. Hide Folders With My Lockbox
My Lockbox is a utility to lock and hide folders. When you first launch the tool, you need to create a password. Next, you can assign a Lockbox folder.
In the free version, the number of folders is limited to one, although you can change the folder anytime. When you launch My Lockbox, you can lock (hide) and unlock (unhide) your Lockbox folder. Unlike Free Folder Hide, My Lockbox will also hide your folder when the folder options are set to show hidden files, folders, and drives.
In the advanced view, you can access additional options, for example, to set trusted applications allowed to access your folder or to create hotkeys.
We have previously reviewed My Lockbox here: How To Lock Windows Folders With MyLockbox.
How to Safely Lock Away Your Data
Another freeware tool we have previously recommended is Easy File Locker. This tool lets you lock and hide both files and folder. The tool itself is password-protected, so no one can launch or uninstall it without first entering the password.
How do you store sensitive data from prying eyes? Would you recommend to store files in a secret online location?